GVSU dominates inside to throttle Olivet in season opener

GVL / Mo Azuz 
Senior Rob Woodson lays up the ball against Olivet College defender Kevin Woodson

GVL / Mo Azuz Senior Rob Woodson lays up the ball against Olivet College defender Kevin Woodson

Jay Bushen

It took junior center Darren Washington and sophomore forward Ricky Carbajal just two possessions to send a resounding message that lasted for an entire game.

The Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team kicked off its 2013 campaign against Olivet College on Monday night with back-to-back dunks, which seemed to set the tone early for a 70-48 victory in front of more than 1,000 fans at the Fieldhouse Arena.

GVSU (1-0) established its inside presence from the start when Washington rolled toward the rim and rattled it with a right-handed flush.

“I don’t score a whole lot,” the 6-foot-8 center said. “My big role on the team is to get rebounds, get blocks and to provide energy. To get the dunk early really helped get the energy up.”

Carbajal, not to be outdone, slammed one home with both hands on the next possession and forced Olivet to call a timeout just 82 seconds into the game.

Both players notched career highs in points and rebounds. Washington recorded a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 11 boards, while Carbajal led the way with a game-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

“Once he gets going, I get going,” Carbajal said.

GVSU finished the game with a 46-8 edge on the paint and a 55-29 advantage on the glass. The team was authoritative in the post all night long on both ends.

The Comets (0-3) managed to score just 12 points in the first half after an abysmal 8.3 shooting-percentage clip from the floor. Their first bucket down low came with 14:47 to play in the second half.

Washington, also known as “Chief,” posted a game-high three blocks. He said his team is making strides early in the season.

“This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever been on,” he said. “We have six new guys, a lot of transfers, JuCo’s and freshmen coming in, but everyone is getting along nicely.”

Junior guard Ryan Sabin, who assisted on both of the early crowd-pleasing dunks, finished the game with 12 points, seven boards and five assists.

Freshman forward Trevin Alexander also played well and finished with six points and nine boards. Sophomore guard Darren Kapustka had three steals.

Despite an impressive performance in the first half, the team’s perimeter defense appeared to get a bit lackadaisical in the second. GVSU allowed six threes in the second half for the second-straight game against an NCAA Division III opponent.

It had just surrendered 12 total 3-pointers on Thursday in its final exhibition game in a 90-84 win over Hope College.

“I thought we were a little sloppy in all phases of the game,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “Overall, I just didn’t think we had the fire and the passion that I would like to see out of our team. I think there’s more there. That’s our challenge—to keep raising the bar.”

Wesley did say he was pleased with the play of his big men in the game.

If the team is able to establish an inside scoring threat to complement its backcourt this season, it could be a good sign for things to come once GLIAC play starts in December.

The Lakers will be looking to begin the season 2-0 on Saturday against Kentucky Wesleyan College at the Fieldhouse Arena at 1 p.m.

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